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News in Brief 6 January 2023 |


This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Belarus: Trial of Nobel winner Ales Bialiatski ‘politically motivated’ 

The trial of Belarusian rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski is “simply politically motivated” and he should be released, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday. 

Mr. Bialiatski, a veteran rights campaigner and founder of Viasna civil society group, was arrested in July 2021 on tax evasion charges. 

Two other activists were also detained. Their trial began on Thursday. 

UN human rights office spokesperson Jeremy Laurence said that Mr. Bialiatski faces up to 12 years in jail if found guilty: 

“The trio are among hundreds detained after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests back in 2020. We call for the charges against them to be dropped and their immediate release from detention.” 

The appeal from the UN rights office comes amid increasing concerns about tightening legislation in Belarus that restricts civil and political rights, that have followed violent crackdowns against protesters who contested the result of the presidential elections in August 2020.  

New US border measures ‘not in line with international standards’: UNHCR 

Plans by the Biden administration to expand restrictions on people seeking refuge in the United States are “not in line with refugee law standards”, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday. 

According to reports, the reforms would deny migrants the chance to seek asylum in the US if they crossed into the States  from Mexico without permission. 

But Mr. Biden also said that up to 30,000 people per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela could come legally, if they meet a series of requirements, including finding a sponsor and being able to afford a plane ticket. 

UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov told journalists in Geneva that more time was needed to examine the new measures, but that the UN agency had its concerns: 

“What we are reiterating is that this is not in line with refugee law standards and that to establish a link between safe and legal pathways which have been announced and of course we welcome the expansion of those on one side that are accessible for some people with curtailment for the right to seek asylum for many more who are ineligible for these pathways.” 

Myanmar amnesty still leaves thousands in detention, OHCHR warns 

To Myanmar, where the military authorities who seized power in a coup nearly two years ago have been urged by the UN human rights office, OHCHR, to release all political opponents still in detention. 

The OHCHR appeal on Friday for thousands of political prisoners came as others were released, as part of an amnesty. 

But even as some were set free, “another 22 were detained, so the situation continues”, the UN rights office warned.  

Many prisoners have been tortured and badly treated for opposing the February 2021 coup, OHCHR said, before insisting that the “pathway out of Myanmar’s crisis (was) not by locking people up”, but rather by allowing the free, full and effective participation in political life.  

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 


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